Monday, 14 February 2011

New officer ready to tackle Lancashire's wildlife crime

Lancashire's new Wildlife Officer Mark Thomas
A new civillian officer with a varied background in policing - including taking on terrorists - has been appointed to supervise investigations into wildlife crime across the county.

Mark Thomas, 37, will now oversee wildlife issues for Lancashire Constabulary and will be based at the force’s headquarters in Hutton. He has worked with the constabulary for 10 years, having moved to his new position from a civilian role in the counter terrorism unit.

“I come from a rural background of farming and game keeping so wildlife issues have always been close to my heart," he says. “I know that my new role will be quite a demanding challenge, but I think that it will be a very rewarding one.

“I'm looking forward to working with fellow officers and the community to help fight wildlife crime in Lancashire.”

Issues that are investigated by the wildlife officer include poaching, badger digging, dog fighting, nest site disturbance, the maintenance of sensitive animal and bird breeding projects, plant thefts and the consequent associated crimes such as burglary, trespassing and theft.

Mark takes over from PC Duncan Thomas, who has been the Constabulary’s wildlife lead for the past six years and whose work included protecting Hen Harriers and the rare Black-Tailed Godwits. With only one pair of godwits in the north of England (and only around 50 breeding pairs in the whole of the UK), the success of the  four in Lancashire is considered vital for the future of these rare birds in the region.

PC Thomas will now work as a response officer in Longridge, but will continue to advise on wildlife issues in the Bowland area, a special place for lots of birds, in particular, birds like Hen Harriers, which are one of the UK's top conservation species.

“I would like to thank all the farmers, game keepers, wildlife wardens and residents who have given me phenomenal help with preventing and investigating wildlife crime," noted PC Thomas. “Their ongoing support will enable Lancashire Constabulary to continue bringing offenders to justice."

The move to 'civilianise' the wildlife officer’s post was taken as part of Lancashire Constabulary’s current review of its services.

Lancashire Police Wildlife Crime Department

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